Afrikaanssprekende vat SA die ruimte in, maar Afrikaans is nie goed genoeg vir die SA Nasionale Ruimteagentskap (Sansa)

Adv Anton Alberts

​Al het ʼn Afrikaanssprekende van ʼn Afrikaanse universiteit Suid-Afrika met sy eerste satelliet die ruimte in gevat, is daar steeds geen plek vir die land se derde grootste taal by die SA Nasionale Ruimteagentskap (Sansa) nie, sê adv. Anton Alberts, die VF Plus se parlementêre woordvoerder oor wetenskap en tegnologie.

In antwoord op ʼn parlementêre vraag van adv. Alberts oor waarom Afrikaans nie gebruik word nie ten spyte van die feit dat die taal se woordeskat omvangryk en ontwikkeld genoeg is vir die gebruik van tegniese ruimte-terminologie, was die antwoord bloot dat Engels as ‘algemene gebruikstaal’ aanvaar is, en Zoeloe en Sepedi as die ander twee tale.

Oor die betrokke tale se tersaaklike terminologiese woordeskat, en die bydrae wat dit daarom tot ʼn ruimteprogram kan lewer, was die antwoord dat dit ʼn ‘eerbare poging’ was om so veel as moontlik mense by die program te betrek, en dat dit ʼn geleentheid aan die swart tale bied om te ontwikkel.

Adv. Alberts sê dit klink wel eerbaar om swart tale te ontwikkel, maar die vertrapping van ʼn taal wat sonder enige hulp deur sy eie gebruikers en Afrikaanse instellings tot ʼn wêreldtaal op die spesifieke gebied ontwikkel is, is teen-produktief en kortsigtig.

“Dit stuur maar net weer die boodskap uit dat die Afrikaner en sy vermoëns welkom is in die land, maar nie sy taal nie,” sê adv. Alberts.


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 1. QUESTION NO 1796


“Adv A de W Alberts (FF Plus) to ask the Minister of Science and Technology:

(1) Why has the SA National Space Agency (SANSA) not adopted Afrikaans as one of its official languages in terms of the Use of Official Languages Act, Act 12 of 2012, in spite of the fact that Afrikaans has an extensive lexis for technical space terminology at its command and the first South African satellite was developed successfully by an Afrikaans-speaking student at an Afrikaans-speaking University, namely Stellenbosch University;

(2) (a) what was SANSA’s motivation for each individual official language chosen in terms of the Use of Official Languages Act, Act 12 of 2012, (b) whether each of these specified languages has an extensive lexis for technical space terminology at its command and (c) what contribution each of the specified languages has made to date to the expansion and development of South Africa’s space agency and programme?




(1) In line with the Use of Official Languages Act (Act No. 12 of 2012), SANSA, like any other public entity, has to identify three official languages that it will use for government purposes. The Department of Science and Technology has decided that the Department, together with its entities, will primarily use English as accepted “language of common use”. The Department selected isiZulu and Sepedi given that these are “the most widely spoken first languages in the two biggest language groups (Nguni and Sotho)”, according to the 2011 census. It should also be borne in mind that the Nguni language group (isiZulu, isiXhosa and siSwati) would generally understand isiZulu and, similarly, the Sotho language group (Sesotho, Sepedi and Setswana) would generally understand Sepedi. This is not to down play the role of Afrikaans or any of the other official languages in science and technology communication. In line with the South African National Constitution, SANSA permits the use of all eleven official languages in the normal life and operations of its employees at work. This will continue and has never been prohibited. Further, Section 4.2 of SANSA’s draft language policy makes it clear that “SANSA will not be restricted to the three languages of English, isiZulu and Sepedi in communications and may include any of the other eleven official languages should it deem it necessary.” Therefore, selecting one or the other language to reach a targeted public community in a particular region or area is still permissible, budget permitting. The desire is to reach as many of the country’s public communities as possible and not to exclude any specific language group.

(2) (a) The motivation was the noble desire to reach the largest portion of the South African population as reasonably as possible. This is not to say the other language groups are less important. Indeed, more languages may be added in the future, funds permitting.

(b) The intention is to develop the lexicon in these languages in these languages. As per its Language Policy, SANSA will partner with University linguistic departments to provide assistance in terminology development and translation services.

(c) South Africa’s past is such that the biggest language groups’ contribution to the country’s space programme has been limited. However, in recent times, all eleven official language groups have since contributed to SANSA and the space programmes in various forms including in the form of being employees of SANSA, stakeholders of SANSA, and recipients of the products and services of the programme.